Wednesday, September 7, 2011

World Championships

Training ride with the team

So after the Val Di Sole world cup the Canadian team traveled to Champery Switzerland. We took the train there and it was neat going through the twisty mountain passes and lots of tunnels, and other times it was very hot and sweaty sitting on the train. Eventually we got to Champery and head coach Dan met us with pizza - which were very well received by everyone as we had mostly missed dinner.

Training in Champery went very well, I did quite a bit of riding with Derek, and one day we climbed mountain roads for 2hrs and more climbing on cow trail/singletrack and got clear up to the French border on the ridge of the mountains! It was pretty neat and we made sure to step across the cattle fence into France for a bit. From there I talked to some locals and we found an awesome singletrack descent that took us most of the way back the race course.

The french border

During the week I logged lots of time on the race course, and felt pretty comfortable with it. This race course started out with a gradual paved/gravel climb for about 3min, then a 4 foot drop/launch, followed by about 4min of flat double track and rooty singletrack, that kicked up into a very steep 2min gravel climb and a fun rooty descent to the finish.

All week it would rain on and off and the course was always somewhat wet, which was fine by me as I tend to do better in the wet. Race day the weather forecast was afternoon showers, so none of us really knew whether or not to run mud tires. I went with an intermediate tire and it seemed pretty good.

Saturday morning the girls raced, and it was very exciting to see my wife have her best international result finishing 31st, and to see fellow NB native Catharine Pendrel WIN World Champs!!!

The guys raced at 4:30, which is indeed pretty late but it put us closer to prime time TV, so I guess that is a good thing. I had a decent start this time, with 120 guys ripping up the pavement at 50km/hr. I avoided all the crashes and ripped around the start loop in about 80th place and then we went into the end of the lap up the steep gravel climb. This was ok, and I tried to hold my own position, at the top it was a complete bottle neck and we were all off our bikes as 100 of us tried to shove our way though basically a door-way sized space.

From there on it was typical world cup racing, meaning that you exit a piece of singletrack and then sprint as hard as you can to pass or hold off the other racers around you and then dive into the singletrack very blown and try and ride smooth, but really you bounce around everywhere because you can’t see straight. Really, if you just imagine monteal traffic that is how we race – floor it, brake hard – maybe crash into each other, floor it again. We would for sure go faster if we could just TT, but that is not what world cup racing is all about – unless you are winning. I did have a few sweet singletrack passes, there was one wide rooty flat section were 4 of us were riding, dude 1 went way right, and 2 and 3 went left and right and I found some really good traction and shot right up the middle and passed all 3 of them, it was kinda fun to do.

On lap 4 I had moved up a few positions and was in the 70’s somewhere and had just pulled off a sweet pass on a sketchy root drop downhill, I think I was having too much fun and got a bit out of control and BAM, I smoked a tree with my handlebar and head. I got up and kept moving and though I had broken the brake lever clean off but it was just twisted out of sight, so I was able to muscle it back up. I did however rip the hydraulic hose off my fork lockout which means that the fork was now rigid. Anyway, I figured I could still do it and rode the drop just fine, some of the singletrack was a bit rough and bumpy but I managed. Finishing that lap I got pulled by the commisare for being 80% back of the leaders. It was unfortunate as I was the guy 3sec in front of me made it though, and as it had started to rain I was actually riding better than earlier in the race.

Overall I was not super happy with my race, I always like to improve and I don’t feel like this Worlds was as good a race as last year, but I guess we can’t be our best all of the time.

It was a great trip though, awesome to have my brother and his wife show up, as Sarah is studying with a Swiss professor for 2 months and they were able to come cheer. Many thanks to the Canadian National team and Xprezo for all the race help and support.

Yes, the Subaru Justy still exists in Europe - lots of clearance and 4x4!